As Idahoans, we value our independence. Self-reliance and the freedom to think independently are woven into the very fabric of our state. We don’t blindly follow the crowd and that’s not what we want from our elected leaders. Unfortunately, actions by Idaho Republican Party bosses prove that anything but blind adherence to their extreme agenda will no longer be tolerated.
Even the highest-ranking Republican official in the state, Governor Little, has become a target of his own party. At the center of the conflict is his veto of a bill that threatened the future of libraries across the state. House Bill 314 would have established a bounty system to attack libraries and allow parents to sue for cash rewards if their child received materials they found objectionable. The legislation contained dangerously broad language where even a reference to a gay person could have been considered offensive.
Citing the threat of expensive lawsuits, bankrolled by taxpayers, Gov. Little used his authority to veto the legislation during the 2023 session. Democrats, joined by 14 Republican representatives who held similar concerns, successfully voted to uphold the veto in the House. This angered Idaho Republican Party leaders and allies who have book bans at the top of their agenda.
Retribution came at the Idaho Republican Party summer meeting last month. Gov. Little and the 14 Republican legislators received a rebuke from party leaders in the form of a “vote of no confidence.” Party leaders also approved a rule change allowing them to censure — and even block Republicans from running for office — if they deviate from their extreme party platform.
A platform that calls for censorship in our libraries, criminalizes abortion as murder even when the patient will die without receiving it, and would repeal your right to marry the person you love.
If you think this contradicts what most Idahoans believe, you are right. Polling conducted on behalf of the American Libraries Association found that a vast majority of Democrats and Republicans oppose efforts to have books removed from libraries. Polling from the Idaho Statesman shows a majority of Idahoans support legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community and oppose hardline abortion laws.
The Idaho Republican Party is out of touch with the majority of Idahoans. Yet, its tiny governing body, made up of fewer than 200 individuals, now wields immense power to control the actions and votes of our elected officials.
In our democracy, elected officials ought to answer to the public, not party bosses. We must unite against efforts by Republican insiders to consolidate power and rig the rules in their favor. Idaho Democrats will continue to put people first.
Lauren Necochea, Idaho Democratic Party Chair